the come-back kid (I hope)

I’ve been without pain for the past few weeks. Without any chiropractor appointments.

So I signed up for this year’s Ridgewood Turkey Trot. It’s a 5-miler on Thanksgiving day. This will be my fourth year in a row. I’m sure it will be my slowest. And I am settled, and okay with that. It just means I will keep getting stronger and faster in the future.

I’m going to test out a 5-mile run on Saturday (or Sunday). Otherwise, I haven’t ran 5 miles in 6 months. I’m pretty excited.

For our (1-year) anniversary, I gave Dan a scavenger hunt. We had a lot of fun. Me, feeling like a CIA agent, stalking through Raleigh, leaving gifts and cryptic messages, then staying close by to watch it until Dan showed up. Then, scurrying to the next destination without being “caught” or seen. Dan enjoyed the doting (each clue had a little love note attached), attention, and said he felt like he was a CIA agent, tracking down my clues. He never saw me, and had no idea I was there. He said he was really hesitant to drink the coffee I left for him.

pimento cheese + Clue, left on the doorstep of Location #1

pimento cheese + Clue, left on the doorstep of Location #1

Anyway, the last gift was registration for the Turkey Trot. We met running, so it felt like appropriate timing. Last year, we ran it together, and both PR’d (significantly so for a 5-mile race). For our anniversary, he got me the ULTIMATE headlamp. It sounds weird to others- but we met on a team for a distance relay, so it was very fitting. We also went to a really nice dinner at the Stanbury (delicious little hip restaurant in Mordecai district of Raleigh; I didn’t know I liked brussel sprouts until that dinner… Also the pumpkin-chocolate creme brulee was to die for! Too bad Dan didn’t want to try the beef tongue… I was all ready for that!)

Dan's "Mr Grumpy Pants" in the morning

Dan’s “Mr Grumpy Pants” in the morning

Mug and coffee left at Location #2. I feel the need to elaborate on the mug: Dan is very grumpy before he gets his coffee in the morning, so the mug was fitting. We have a collection of about 20 mugs, and 18 of which are mine from various trips, from family members, etc. The point is almost all our mugs are “mine” (or his boring mugs… he lost his Seinfeld mug), so I wanted to get him a character mug. He has one from a tri he finished recently.

So I have three weeks to “get ready” for the Turkey Trot. I am not trying to set any records, but it would feel good to be able to run the entire course, and feel slightly speedy/competitive. I’ve been holding back during training, so maybe a race will help me find some external motivation, and spark some enthusiasm for speeding up 🙂

Here’s some autumn inspiration:

our neighborhood street. So pretty this time of year!

our neighborhood street. So pretty this time of year!

The sunrise on Tuesday morning. Kind of glad I had to work so early, so I could see it :)

The sunrise on Tuesday morning. Kind of glad I had to work so early, so I could see it 🙂

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Overcoming PTSD of injuries

Settle in kids. This may be a long one.

Lately, I’ve been trying really hard to come back.

In May, I found out the sharp cramp in my side was actually a torn abdominal muscle. My PCP did not do an x-ray like I suggested, and just thought it was a fluke, and it would go away with rest and muscle relaxers. It would be fine for a few weeks, then I’d push it a little harder, and would end up laid up in bed for a week or so. Of course, I still had to work, but I’d take a day off, or go to work, get the essentials done, then come home, take muscle relaxers and be in bed by 8pm.

Finally, in August; I decided there was still something wrong with me. I searched the area for an ortho- specialist who would work with abdominal (muscle) issues, and came up empty-handed. After much exasperation, I settled on going to our chiropractor (I went to him often when I was a gymnast and my mom still goes to see him. She has brought him fresh baked cookies at Christmas for the past 30 years). I trust him, which is big. But, more importantly, I thought he would be able to help.

Finally, I got the help I wanted

My first visit was a mixture of nerves and excitement. I was nervous he wouldn’t be able to help me. And I was excited that I may have finally found a solution. He met with me; we caught up about the past ten years (apparently my mom alluded to Dan and I getting married… Hopeful exaggeration I’m sure), and I jumped right in with my problem. I told him I want x-rays, I was sure I was dislocated something, or that I had a broken rib or something I hadn’t even thought of yet.

The x-rays came back as this: My left hip was all out of line, and had pulled my sacrum (your very lower spine) to the left. My upper back was being pulled right and down, pulling my shoulder out of line. The diagnosis was pretty clear- my body had been pulling itself apart, resulting in a severe ‘crunching’ of my right abdomen. I wasn’t getting full circulation to the area. Nerves and arteries were likely being pinched, causing extra pain on top of the pulled abdominal muscle(s). Basically, it would have never healed on its own.

He popped my shoulder and hip back into place, and did a little treatment on my upper spine (by your shoulder blades), and by my sacrum. He told me the plan was to see me weekly for a little while.

That night is hard to describe. I could feel my abdomen again. It felt like every breathe opened it up. I also felt a lot of pain. Your body gets used to misalignment, and being corrected hurts.

He urged me to run further and further each week. At first, I ran maybe a mile; afraid of pushing it too far.

Fear lingers, even through recovery

I am still afraid. Each time I run, I try to push it a little extra. But there is a wall I can’t push past. It keeps me from giving it my all. I am afraid that I will literally give it my all, and be left with nothing. Nothing meaning I will be laid up in bed for another week or two.

I’ve added strength training. But I can only do it once per week. I often ‘don’t have time’… The truth is I’m afraid when the strength training hurts. I really can’t feel it my body when I’ve pushed it too far. So I back off quicker. I don’t always complete a workout (which makes me feel weak- mentally and physically). I am learning to accept this, but it is a hard struggle.

This summer, I was pretty depressed about my injury. I had to choose between doing a 10-min run or hanging out with friends, because I knew a run would put me out for the day. I wouldn’t be in ‘a little pain’, but the kind of pain where sitting up hurts. Holding a conversation with people, laughing, leaning forward; all of it put in pain. So I would stay in. I lost a little bit of the vitality that makes me who I am.

I was so mad about it. I was mad that Dan was forced to be around me when I never wanted to go anywhere or do anything. Like I was a rock, weighing him down. I’d get mad at myself for getting upset about it. I’ve learned to just live the hand you are dealt.

The good news is

I’m done with all that. I have acknowledged I have been experiencing chronic pain. There are good days and bad days. My good days are getting better and better, and are more often. My bad days are fewer; and although they upset me, the pain isn’t as bad as it was over the summer. I’ve owned up to the fact that the muscle relaxers help me on the bad days. They keep me still and tire me out, which helps my body heal. I am not weak because I choose to stop a workout, or take muscle relaxers, or go to bed at 9pm to ensure extra sleep. I am healing, I am getting stronger; all of it is necessary to get there.

So the most recent update-

The most I’ve ran since April is 2.95 miles, which I did on September 19 (and celebrated with Dan and Dave, pizza and beer). It was at a 10:22 pace, which is a lot slower than my former 3-mile pace, but I was able to complete it; so it was a day of celebration.

Last week, I ran 6 miles total; broken over 3 separate runs, and I swam ~20 mins one night. For the most part, I felt okay; good even. That is very different than June/July. celebration.

My work schedule is a little chaotic (working til 7 or 8pm), so this week is less than last week.

Overall, my goal is to complete 5 miles (running without stopping), within the next month. I plan to do the Ridgewood Turkey Trot (5 miles) no matter what this year. I may have to walk some, and will probably finish a LOT slower than in years past, but I will finish it. celebration.

If by February, I can’t run a decent long run (8-10 miles), I will defer the Rock ‘n Roll Raleigh’s inaugural year. As it is, I’m not crazy; I plan to drop down to the half. I am hoping that I can slowly build over the next few months, and begin ‘training’ in the new year.

So that’s my injury story. I’ve been avoiding writing about it. Partly because it makes me sad. Partly because I’m still in the middle of it. Partly because it had consumed my life for the past six months, and I didn’t want to give it any more power over me. But I needed to write it. This is one of those ‘blogging for me’ moments.

And anyone who reads down this far, run a little extra/ push a little extra for me. Because I can’t, but so badly want to. Set your goals a little higher than your comfort zone.  I’ve always ran because I work with people who inspire me. Their health made it hard for them to dream of completing a marathon, so I ran with them in mind. It’s very strange for me to be on the other side now, even if its temporary…

my review of run/walking

Here’s a hint: it sucks

I took Friday afternoon off. It was beautiful weather- 75 degrees and sunny with a slight breeze, so I took a ‘hike’ with running intervals. I want to keep up my endurance while I’m injured. I ended up using my iPhone, setting ‘slow’ intervals of 12-minutes, ‘fast’ intervals of 4-minutes.

Once I started, I decided 12-minutes slow was too long, so generally walked 10, ran 6. Which I was proud of 🙂

My goal was to keep around a 12:30 pace. I chose Umstead for my hike, but didn’t think about all the hills.

My first ‘run’ intervals started a little way before a massive 400ft elevation gain over 0.5 miles. I dread that hill. It’s always brutal. But I managed to keep a 10:08 pace. And dropped to a walk at the top.

It was a great warm-up, and being able to run up that hill was a confidence booster. I hit that same hill (downward) at the end of a run interval. So I coasted, running the hill and finished the mile in a 9:11 (Woo! Likely with some walking)

Even walking was nice. It was pretty out there. And the biggest struggle I’ve had with my injury is learning to breathe normally again. I used my hand over my abdomen to ‘coach’ my body some. The last mile of this route is uphill as well, about a 200-300ft gain. I walked as fast I could, and finally had to run, and struggled to keep a 11:00 pace while running. But my body was tired. When I dropped to a walk, it was a 15:00 pace.

I totaled 6.12 or 10K in 1:15. Not too bad. I was really tired after. No, that’s fucking awesome! It’s the most I’ve ran/moved in more than 2 months! And my legs and lungs still work well!

On another note, my hair is getting light highlights from all my time outdoors, and my shoulders are getting nice and tan.

I’m tired today. I’ve also decided to call my hurt abdomen ‘Bob’. Bob woke me up around 530 this morning, very angry. But I took a muscle relaxer and wanting Bob to Pipe the FUCK down! (Jenna Marbles shout out)

Today is a drag queen derby race in Raleigh, with an Alice in Wonderland theme. I am excited for it. And hoping I can drown Bob before he butts in with his rudeness to ruin the day.

Happy weekend everyone (and Good morning)

finally functioning!

It has been a long time. And as much as a lot has happened. Most of this was me like this–

sleep

And heavily medicated on muscle relaxers. I essentially pulled (possible tore?) my abdominal muscle, which put me out for like 3 weeks, where I basically was lying down as often as possible. And working a 8-hour day was difficult. For 2-3 weeks, I was either in pain or medicated and in a daze.

I didn’t see friends. I don’t remember much of the first couple of weeks of my injury. It’s kind of all a blur.

My doctor cleared me to run, and I wasn’t sure about it, but I wanted to run. So I ran. The first time was successful. I took more muscle relaxers (in case my body spasmed again) for the next couple days and tried again. Try #2 was painful. In fact, I think I re-injured myself and had to start from scratch.

So, I just stopped moving all together. I told myself I’d wait until I had no pain for a week or two before trying again.

And this month has been busy. When I haven’t been working, I’ve been sleeping. Pretty much.

Saturday, I went father’s day shopping. And was just feeling great. My apartment complex got new gym equipment (3 new ellipticals, that looked nice and a new treadmill that I tested out and I like). So, I decided to go elliptical style at the gym; 20 minutes. If I felt good, I’d jump on the treadmill. So I did 20 minutes on the elliptical with 50% workload, then feeling great, hopped on the treadmill.

I did 0.5 miles in about 4:00 (starting at a 8:30 pace, and knocking down to a 7:00 pace), all feeling like I could do for another 3-4 miles. But, I didn’t. I know I will be coming back slow. No worries 🙂

And I may try it again tonight (or maybe tomorrow, since I work til 8 tonight).

But, still alive. Kicking. Literally, and metaphorically; and making my comeback (though a marathon may be out of reach in 5 months…)